Table of Contents

Last updated: 1 month ago

Which Dog Breeds Help People Struggling with Anxiety and Mental Health Issues?

If you are someone who suffers from anxiety and/or depression, imagine being able to decrease your symptoms, feel better about yourself, sleep better, be in a better mood, and boost your self-esteem. Sound promising? You may want to talk to your health care provider about an Emotional Support Dog (ESD).

By definition, an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal that provides a therapeutic benefit—emotional support, comfort, companionship—to a person with a mental health or psychiatric disability (such as a serious mental health condition like depression or anxiety). Numerous studies have shown that the exchange of devotion between a person and their animal companion can have life-changing effect for those suffering.

Which Dog Breeds Help People Struggling with Anxiety and Mental Health Issues?

The Difference Between Emotional Support Dogs and Service Dogs

What is the difference between an Emotional Support Dog and a Service Dog? There is a difference; emotional support dogs are not service animals. These two types of dogs have very distinct functions and different legal protections.

Emotional Support Dogs (ESDs) provide support for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental disorders. They do not need specialized training, and training is not required by law. However, their value to their human companions can be just as effective as Service Dogs.

An ESD’s primary function is companionship, comfort, loyalty, emotional stability, and life enhancement. The owner will come to rely on the ESD, and the ESD will rely on the owner. Technically, any dog can qualify to be an ESD.

To be considered for an ESD, your healthcare provider must first make a diagnosis of your mental health condition and then determine if an ESD would be beneficial to you. They will then provide you with a letter or prescription stating you would benefit from an ESD. With your prescription or letter, you can begin to request accommodations for your ESD in locations such as air travel and housing.

While it’s not required by the government to register your dog as an ESD, registering your ESD on some websites may bring some benefit in requesting accommodations. Although training is not required, it is beneficial to seek out basic obedience training. This will help your ESD be more well-received in public places. ESDs do not have the same legal protections as Service Dogs. They have accommodations with the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, but they cannot be in any public place.

Service Dogs (SDs) receive specific training for their owner’s disability. They are also trained to concentrate in any setting and to only listen to their owner’s voice and no one else. This training can take months or even years to complete.

Some of the tasks Service Dogs learn include guiding the blind, signaling their owner of oncoming seizures or shifts in their level of blood sugar, alerting the deaf to significant sounds, pulling a wheelchair, adding support for people with limited mobility, and even retrieving things. SDs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This allows them to be with their owners in all public areas even if pet restrictions are otherwise in place.

Which Dog Breeds Help People Struggling with Anxiety and Mental Health Issues?

What Breeds of Dogs are Best for ESDs?

While any dog can qualify to be an ESD, it recommended that the dog be sociable, laid-back, and mellow.

Smaller ESDs are ideal for people who live in a smaller space or for people who travel a lot. These dogs include:

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, English Toy Spaniels
  • Pugs
  • Chihuahuas
  • Dachshunds
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Poodles
  • Bichon Frises
  • Corgis
  • Shih Tzu

You’ll want to do some research. Each of these breeds have their many positive aspects (affectionate, get along with children, other pets, trainable, long life span, etc.), but they also bring some traits common to their breed which can be challenging (shedding, excitable barking, digging, mischief, etc.) It will be important to find a good match for your situation.

Larger ESDs are great for people who have a yard and larger living space. They can inspire you to exercise. They also provide a deterrent to unwanted people on your property. These dogs include:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • German Shepherds
  • Border Collies
  • Irish Wolfhounds
  • Great Danes
  • Bernese Mountain Dog

The same should be said of larger dogs as mentioned above concerning smaller dogs; do your research as each of these breeds bring different characteristics to the table, pro and con.

Rescue Dogs
Rescue dogs of any size or mixed breed can make for great ESDs. The very nature of a rescued dog and their human companion’s relationship is a positive—you’re rescuing this animal from a shelter and he or she is helping you. Rescue dogs can be just as loyal, loving, and trainable as any dog breed. And an added benefit is that they don’t have the strong behavioral traits of any pure breed.

Get Help Today.

We are here to help you through every aspect of recovery.
Let us call you to learn more about our treatment options.

We are here to help you through every aspect of recovery. Let us call you to learn more about our treatment options.

What are Some Advantages of Having an ESD?

  1. ESDs bring many benefits to their owners. These include:
  2. Regulating emotions – Emotions can become less overwhelming when an ESD is by your side.
  3. Regular routines – Your ESD will help you get out of bed. They will be right there ready to walk, be fed, be pet, or be played with. It will give your life more sense of purpose.
  4. Better sleep – The security an ESD provides can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  5. Becoming more social – ESDs make it easier to start conversations with people. They also provide more opportunities to meet people while taking walks.
Which Dog Breeds Help People Struggling with Anxiety and Mental Health Issues?

“Imagine yourself to be the person your dog believes you are.”
Many dog breeds are full of affection and would make tremendous ESDs. Why not look into getting the support you need from an ESD? You might just become an inseparable duo.

Get Help Today.

We are here to help you through every aspect of recovery.
Let us call you to learn more about our treatment options.

We are here to help you through every aspect of recovery. Let us call you to learn more about our treatment options.

Was this article helpful?

YES

NO

We are here to help! CALL (850) 935-3637